The four way stop is new to a lot of people – especially from the UK. I am used to them now but I know that many people I meet are confused by them. After a few scary experiences where a british driver has misunderstood how these four way stops work, I now always make sure they know before we set out in their car.
A four way stop is a junction with four stop signs. Each side of the junction takes their go in turn, based on the order each vehicle reaches the stop sign. The trick to using them is to note who is at the other three stop signs when you reach you the front of the line for your side of the junction. The people already there go first, one by one, and then it is your turn. It is a pretty fair system and works quite well.
Occasionally you have problems when people go out of turn, or when they wave you on when it is not your turn. The rolling stop can cause some confusion here too. Make sure you come to a complete stop and then people will know that you’ve arrived and you get to take your turn.
This evening on our way back from Kits we saw the great advantage of the four way stop procedure when we came to a junction by the highway where the lights were out. Actually they were flashing red – from all directions. This would have caused chaos beyond measure in the UK – and probably most places in the world.
Here? We all started using the four way stop procedure. It was a complicated junction, with more than one lane in each direction, but everything worked well. While we were there traffic kept flowing with only the odd hiccup. There were no horns blaring, no fists raised and no stress. I don’t know where the four way stop came from, but it is well suited to Canada – where fairness and being polite are valued.